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Wilderness Adventures - Dec., Week 4/2008

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' about the Lakesounds just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

31/12/2008 4:30 PM

New Year's Eve

This is going to be extremely short folks, because we've spent the last couple of days getting the Hall ready for the New Year's Party. That long cold spell caused the sewer at the Hall to freeze up so Andy and Len have spent the last two days trying to get it thawed out. No one realized it was frozen until we went over yesterday afternoon to decorate so the guys have been using trough heaters to get rid of the ice. Looks like it might be okay now, but we'll have to see if the pipe between the two tanks is frozen as well. Unfortunately, the guy that installed it did a real half assed job of it, leaving too much above ground. That won't work in cold country where facilities are not used very much.
Our neighbour came over happy as could be. After days of his water being frozen up, he came up with an ingenious idea for finally getting his pipes thawed out. He should patent it since that's not an uncommon problem in this country.
I didn't get a chance for a ski or walk today, but walked the back trails yesterday. I was absolutely astounded at the number of rabbit tracks around. On the road, on the trail, and dotting the snowscape. It's been years since I've seen that much sign so they must be on an up cycle.
There were lots of fox and coyote tracks, as well as ptarmigan or grouse. I suppose I should look it up in my track book so that I can tell the difference, but from what I could see, it was both. Ptarmigan seem to have shorter, furrier tracks, while grouse tracks are 'cleaner' and longer. Even the odd path beaten down by squirrels from home to cache was evidence that everything is on the move again now that it's warmed up a bit.
The temperature actually made it up to -2C today but we're not seeing a lot of sun. It got down to -16C or 3F night before last but only dropped to -10C or 14F last night, and that actually happened this morning. It was only -4C when I went to bed last night because it had clouded over and was trying to snow. Not that it amounted to much but it was blowing in sideways with a hefty wind that started up yesterday evening. Nothing like what Vancouver was expecting for winds, but still pretty brisk. I haven't watched the news yet so I don't know what damage they've sustained, but we definitely seem to be coming out better weather wise lately than they have. For that matter, my Mother said they had five foot high snow banks in Hood River, Oregon when they returned home a couple of days ago. Pretty unusual down there. It would seem everyone is getting snow but us.
Okay, gotta go! Happy New Year's to everyone. Drink, be merry and don't forget your resolution for 2009! :-)

29/12/2008 4:25 PM

Three New Properties For Sale

'Tis the season. Folks are already looking to spring and putting up their properties for sale.
One property is located on a 22 acre parcel down in Tatla Lake with a large log home and view of the Coast Mountain Range. Another is located on Nimpo Creek Road just shy of the lake although lake access goes right by the driveway. It's pretty rustic but with over five acres, a great price at the BC Assessment value of $118,000 with 20% off if you buy before February 15.
Just down from there is a heck of a buy....the famous Nimpo Lake Resort. After 40 years in the business, Mary wants to retire and move next door. Since she doesn't want to wait forever to do that, she has the resort on for a super price at $395,000. That's the BC Tax Assessment value folks! Nimpo Lake Resort has a good name throughout North America and is an extremely successful business, with several cabins with all the modern conveniences, some of which were built by Pioneer Log homes. It's a pretty hot buy and were it not for the global economic downturn, this place would have been gone before it went up for sale! You can check out more information at Commercial Properties for Sale.
The other properties can be found under the residential section.
Our weather isn't exactly the greatest thing since sliced bread. We had heavy overcast with this dim little orb that was trying vainly to shine through it. I kept egging the sun on in the hopes it would make it, but it didn't. That meant going out for a ski in temps not much higher than -8C or 17F with no sun to warm things up a bit. It also meant very poor light and were it not for my sunglasses, I would have had a hard time seeing my track. Still, it was nice to get out and I wasn't the only one that thought that way. A few folks were out skiing and walking again today, and the odd snowmobile passed by here and there. A neighbour over on the other side of the lake is trying to push an ice road through from his place with a plow on a fourwheeler. Probably a tough proposition now with those drifts on the ice.
I finally got some beef suet for the birds and put it out last night. They've been going nuts over it and the woodpeckers and chickadees aren't above sharing at all as you can see from the picture up on the right. We've got a whole crowd of grosbeaks around but they've been working over the cones on the pine and spruce trees and obviously haven't figured out yet that the feeder provides all the free seed they want. Probably just as well. We've enough freeloaders on the bird feeder that are going through seed at a ferocious rate, especially during the cold spell. And if you're wondering about the picture below it, I couldn't resist putting it in. That's my Jack-in-the-Beanstalk plant that a good friend of mine from Saskatchewan gave me. I became pretty sure she gave it to me as a joke after this scrawny thing started growing, up to the ceiling and then along it. At least eight feet at first flush. It's definitely not the most attractive plant and nearly went to plant heaven, except that it sprouted some gorgeous flowers just in time to redeem itself. It sprouts them at the oddest times, with clumps of 10 to 20 rose petaled flowers with a heavenly scent. It's a welcome little surprise to have a gift of spring while we've had this cold weather. I keep looking longingly at my soon to be completed greenhouse, and waiting for spring. It's kind of a battle between wanting to go snowmobiling and cross country skiing, and growing things.
Just a reminder, the New Year's Party will be on Wednesday night and for those Directors that might be reading this, we're decorating tomorrow afternoon should you be up to participating. For everyone else, your most welcome! We've got some awesome prizes gathered up and I've got loads of food to take over so we won't go hungry, anyway. Since Andy got the liquor license back today, no one will lack for refreshments either!!

28/12/2008 2:51 PM

Happy Holidays

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and got their fill of turkey, stuffing, ham and in our case, prime rib. Sometimes I feel a slight twinge of guilt that Andy, who really likes turkey, doesn't get it on holidays unless someone else invites us to dinner, but prime rib has always been a tradition for holidays in my family. Not that I'm stuck on tradition, but I'll take a big old prime rib over turkey any day!
We got an incredible warm up the other day when the mercury nearly made it up to the freezing mark. Suddenly, where the lake had been silent and as quiet as could be, it was full of life. Cross country skiers, snowmobilers, and different sets of folks going for a walk while out by the small island, folks were ice fishing, and Tracy had her sled dog team out.
Even today, the bunch from Wilderness Rim were going to snowmobile to Hotnarko Lake for some ice fishing, Andy and Terry snowmobiled up on top of Little Kappan to fix the TV tower, and a snowmachine passed by me while I was out skiing. Yep, finally broke out the cross country skiis. I have no idea how thick the ice is out on the Main Arm but with only an inch of fine snow on it, I figured it was plenty safe enough for me to ski on. Andy and Terry took a few passes over me once they came back and fired up the Super Cub on skiis, and since they didn't frantically wave me away from the Main Arm, I guessed there were no gaping holes in the ice.
The temperature was only up to -5C or 23F today, but the sun was trying to shine so it wasn't too bad out. Yesterday it got up to -2C but it's been dropping pretty good at night to between -15 and -16C or 4 degrees Fahrenheit. We've had some clouds rolling in from over the mountains that look like they've got snow in them but nothing has dropped on us yet.
We had a wild, wild wind on Friday night that pushed some little drifts up on Nimpo Lake. I'm glad we didn't have a great deal of snow on the ice or the wind would have made a real mess of it. When we've had a lot of snow that has then drifted, it makes for a bone jarring ride across the lake on a snowmachine, and is terrible for skiing.
I had hoped Terry would see fit to put in an ice road for everyone on Nimpo Lake while he was up over Christmas as he usually does, but he didn't get around to it. It's too bad because with as little snow as there is on the lake, he would have made short work of it. The only other person here with a plow truck light enough for the lake is our neigbhour's and he's away until the middle of January. By then we could have too much snow on the ice to put an ice road in. Right now it's okay to drive on the existing snow, but it won't work if we get much more. Especially on the boat launch on the other side.
I have no clue whatsoever as to what our weather is supposed to do in the next few days. We missed the news last night but I know that Vancouver got hammered again a couple of days ago. I think that they were supposed to get rain over the weekend though and everyone's worried about flooding because all the storm drains are clogged with snow. Not to mention what will happen when all the snow they have melts. In the meanwhile, we're just bumbling along here, thankful we're out of that cold snap.

24/12/2008 11:20 AM

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's that time folks! The day before Christmas and all is quiet. Around here, anyway. Judging from the news, there's a lot of people doing a lot of scurrying around trying to get from one destination to another. I understand the Vancouver Airport is a mess again and there's still a backlog of passengers waiting for flights. Pretty tough to blame Vancouver for all late flights though. Major airports across Canada and the US have delayed or canceled flights due to the weather. However, it would appear that Air Canada's name is mud right about now. Apparently they canceled all regional flights within British Columbia without reason. That means if you were stuck in the Vancouver airport with your ticket in hand assuming you were going to be able to fly to Prince George for Christmas, think again. Vancouver airport officials insist that they worked all night to ensure runways were clear and ready to go and that there is no reason why those flights couldn't go ahead even though they have received more snow. So I don't know what's up other than when you have a monopoly in Canada, other than Westjet which is more or less a regional airline, I guess you can do whatever you want to. Since Air Canada is the government's pet, that probably won't change any too soon. But I feel for those folks trying to get home for the holidays.
Our temperature was dropping slowly last night and then about midnight, it reversed and started to climb just as slowly. A stiff breeze picked up out of the south, which is probably why it got warmer rather than colder as it should have through the night.
It cooled off to -17C this morning but has warmed up to -13C or 8F and the wind is switching back and forth between the north and south. It looks like we have two more days of cold and then temps warm up throughout the province on Saturday.
We do have cloud but the sun is trying very hard to peek through so I guess we're not getting the heavy snow predicted for everywhere else. That's okay! We all know I want good ice and I'll wait on snow! Very disappointing for the snowmobile enthusiasts, but you don't have to go very far from the lake toward the mountains before you're wallowing in more snow than you know what to do with. Leah tells me that the last time they were out when they were stuck so much, you would not have been able to tell that a trail had been broken the time before, even on Charlotte Main. Their tracks were completely obscured by new and blowing snow.
Since it's Christmas tomorrow, this will be the last blog for a day or two. I cannot express how much I have appreciated and enjoyed getting your emails this past year, getting your feedback, good or bad, making queries, or simply your thanks for the blog. You folks are the reason I keep writing it. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you a really wonderful Christmas and awesome things to come in 2009!

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!!

Andy & Jane
Nimpo Lake, BC

23/12/2008 6:56 PM

Just Keeps On

Our cold weather just keeps on trucking. Surprisingly, we're still slightly warmer than Williams Lake this evening, as has been the case for a couple of days.
It was -30C or 22 below zero Fahrenheit this morning but actually warmed up to -16C or 3.2F this afternoon for a short period of time. The mercury is creeping back down again but not quickly and I think we may warm up for tomorrow and then be back in the deep freeze on Christmas Day. There's a system sliding down the coast from Alaska that is going to push that monster high that's brought all the cold out of the way for about 24 hours, bringing snow to the coast and some serious outflow winds. I don't know how much, if any, snow we'll get inland, but heavy cloud definitely moved in on us today. Actually.... bands of cloud. It was cloudy this morning, cleared up for a couple of hours giving us some vivid sunshine, and then socked back in again.
Andy crossed the lake again today, this time with the one ton dually, and he said the ice is so thick that it didn't make a sound. Usually, when someone drives over the ice, the gunshot sounds and deep rumbles it makes is literally terrifying. Especially if you happen to be out skiing or walking on the ice at the same time. So for a pickup as heavy as his to not make any noise, then it's some good quality ice! He made a few runs up and down the boat launch on the other side of the bay to pack down a track because there's enough snow on it to cause a problem going up the hill. It probably needs to be plowed but that isn't going to happen anytime soon.
I haven't gotten much computer work done the last few days, but I'll still have to keep this short. It's close enough now to Christmas that there's more than a few things to do. Tonight we have to call some friends while today I wrapped presents while Andy was gone to get the liquor license for the New Year's Party at the Hall. I had to be pretty darn careful stacking gifts under the tree and actually attempted to avoid it altogether.
Andy got the tree in the Bella Coola Valley and it was a real stunner. Bright green with fine, soft needles and really bushy. Alpine fir (or what we've always called balsam fir) we think. But coming from the Valley back on top here to temperatures below -30C must have been a bit of a shock to it. Andy brought the tree in a day later and it was absolutely stunning for a few hours. The aroma was unbelievable! Our whole house smelled like someone had peeled hundreds of California oranges fresh off the tree. It was really something for the senses!
The next day I noticed that the outer branches seemed to be taking on a yellowish to olive green tinge and Saturday evening when Andy went to put lights on it, the needles started falling off in a big way, so he quit. I had been at poker so it wasn't until the next day that he was able to ask if I would like a different tree. Heck no! Didn't matter to me if all the needles fell off. You've still got branches to hang decorations on! Besides, it was too cold to go look for another tree.
The tree is now decorated and sheds needles on a pretty regular basis. We leave the lights off so as not to heat up the tree any more than need be. We won't turn them on until Christmas morning and then only while we're in the room. I think the tree will make it until then. It only has a day and a half to go, but I do expect it to look pretty naked by that time. That's okay. The best tree in the world doesn't make Christmas. I figure if I'm at home with my husband and family of pets, don't have to travel and fight the weather like all those people stuck on roads and in airports all across the country, then a Charlie Brown Christmas tree is just dandy with me.

22/12/2008 10:52 AM

The Shortest Day

Today is the first full day of winter but it's also technically the shortest day even though it says otherwise on our calendar. That's what the weather guy said on the television the other day, anyway, that although the calendar marks yesterday (Sunday) as the first day of winter, the shortest day doesn't actually occur until after midnight. However, Andy did a little research and his data says that the shortest day actually lasts several days and we won't see the increase in daylight in its tiny increments for about four days. That's okay, tiny increments or not, just knowing that the daylight hours are going to increase does wonders for my mental health. Call it psychological (or more accurately, all in my head) if you want, but just thinking the days are getting longer makes my winter better! The only value I see in having shorter daylight hours is that it's darker later in the morning, which makes sleeping in very easy to do. No glaring light drumming on your eye balls too early in the morning, giving one a great excuse to make like a bear and hibernate.
Our weather continues to be cold, although we've had some strange shifts here and there. At one point when I was at poker Saturday night, the mercury was sitting at -32C or 26 below zero Fahrenheit. By the time I got home after midnight, it was 24C and continued to warm up through the night slightly. It hovered around there and warmer to -18C or -4F yesterday and today and sifted down a little snow. Total accumulation was no more than about an inch though. Nothing like what Vancouver and the Island got hit with again.
Our temperatures have been a few degrees warmer than the Cariboo around Williams Lake and Prince George, which is highly unusual. Usually our elevation means we're a lot colder, but maybe this time, our proximity to the coast and the jet stream where it takes that deep dive to California, has kept us slightly warmer than farther inland. I think the cloud cover warmed things up a bit too but it rolled back to the south this afternoon in a fairly obvious front line, letting the sun shine in. That warmed things up a bit but once the sun went down, so did the temperature. Right now (early evening) it's sitting at 25C or -13F and dropping steadily.
Andy went out this morning and drilled four holes from our boat launch to the one across the bay leading up to Nimpo and got 14 inches of good, clear ice under the thin layer of snow. Naturally, that was good enough for him so he drove my truck across it this afternoon since his diesel is really heavy in the front end. I figured that meant that he was first to drive on the ice this year but when down at the other end of the lake today I noticed that there were vehicle tracks in front of Mary's place. I don't know if someone just checked the ice out locally there or if some brave soul drove down from the Main Arm. I shouldn't think anyone would be quite that crazy. The Main Arm may be safe for a vehicle but since it only froze a week ago, I would be inclined to give it until the end of this week in a few more days of cold weather to really tighten up the ice. The only problem with that is that it looks like there's a great big system set to hit all of BC on Wednesday, bringing snow to most of the province. None of the forecasters know how much yet, so I don't know if we'll end up with so much on the ice that it will create overflow or not. An existing ice road would keep that from being a problem but since we don't have one, and seeing as how there isn't a bunch that we can do about Mother Nature, I guess we'll just take whatever we get!
Most of Canada is certainly getting blasted by either snow, cold, or both. There's been a regular litany of storm warnings on the weather across Canada every day for just about every single thing winter can throw at us. Right from BC to the east coast it's been Arctic outflow warnings, snow warnings, wind warnings, blizzard warnings, extreme cold warnings and even storm surge warnings for the provinces on the Atlantic. I think the only warning I haven't seen for a couple of days has been freezing rain and that's only because it's just been too cold. It's coming though. And poor Saskatoon....though not the coldest place in Canada by any stretch of the imagination, the reported temps of -48C or -54F with the wind chill made me shiver in my boots since I lived there at one point in time.
Apparently this will be the first time since 1971, or 37 years, that they're predicting a white Christmas everywhere in Canada. Wow. However, I didn't get the impression that wow was the word on many people's lips today when being interviewed while trying to shovel through massive amounts of snow in Vancouver and over on the Island. Even the Okanagan is not a happy place for lovers of dry driveway right now.
I've got a couple of announcements to make. First, I just want to welcome Charlotte Lake Resort on board as a new listing under the accommodations section. While I don't believe they are open during the winter, they have cabins and RV sites available on beautiful Charlotte Lake with stunning views for your recreational pleasure next summer. Check it out!
John Brecknock, who if you will remember, has sent me a few great accounts of some of his past here in the Chilcotin, has the following information:
Diana PHILLPS' book, "Beyond the Chilcotin", is now out; John read the Book and highly recommends it. He states it's a wonderful read and a terrific update on "Grass Beyond the Mountain". Diana has been doing book signings in Prince George, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House. She has sold out what she had in her possession at the moment because she has been shipping all over the place on request. But if you would like to order an autographed copy from her at Diane Phillips, Box 2703, Vanderhoof, British Columbia, Canada VOJ 3A0 Telephone # (250) 567-5001. The book has not been out two weeks and it's already on its second printing. So for anyone that has read Rich Hobson's three books on the Chilcotin a million times and wished there were more after setting down the last book, here's your fix!
Last, but not least, Janet Stegman, who reads the blog, sent me some stunning pictures of a rainbow over Anahim Lake taken on November 30 between 8:00 and 8:30 A.M. She says that the sun was just coming up and for a half hour the fog was forming and drifting and when it lifted, the rainbow was there. It's really, really unusual because you just don't see rainbows in winter here. However, Mary Kirner down at the other end of the lake said that's what she saw about a week ago and certainly the proof is in the puddin' with Janet's pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Thank you, Janet!
Since we're into the last week of December this is the start of a new week. You'll find last week's articles at December Week Three.

The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Woodpecker and chickadee feed on suet outside.
Pink blooms on an oleander stalk.
Janet Stegman photo. Rainbow in winter.
Janet Stegman photo. Faint rainbow above the ice.
White pickup on lake ice.
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